Two Tools for Finding Identity

“Sally” contacted me and asked about some growth issues.  She has a strong religious background, so duty to the demands of community has been central for her in the past.  I am always alert to that as a possible filter for her thought processes, and gently push back when I hear that tone.

In this case, she had a growth project she was working on and wanted me to speak into her strategy.  I gently demurred against her game plan and suggested that unpacking her God-given design was more important to the Kingdom than fulfilling someone’s To Do List.

When I moved the discussion toward her design, she predictably choked.  Discovering our individuality is not core teaching from the religious spirit.

I concurred that it is hard for a person to see themselves, so I sent her to a good friend of hers and asked the friend to describe her design.  The results were not useful since they were all descriptions of her growth in recent years, not her design.  Predictable, since the friend is also coming out of religion.

I tried to show the difference between design and skill acquisition with this illustration.  The objective in school is to teach all the kids how to write.  However, there is the foundational question of whether the child is right or left-handed which needs to be addressed before teaching them how to write.  As the child grows older, there are a multitude of academic skills that need to be mastered to become a good writer, but at the same time, there is more and more pressure to find one’s own voice in their writing – and that is the primacy of design, again.

I sent Sally back to her friend, Suzie, and suggested two tools.  The first is a static comparison.  I suggested that Suzie identify four people who she knows really well and then describe how Sally is the same or different from each of these.  It is often easy to see a comparison when we can’t find language for the abstract.  When Suzie puts Sally alongside her son, Fred, it will be easy to see that Fred is contemplative, Sally is impulsive.  Fred is adaptive to every environment, and Sally needs to change her environment to fit herself.  Fred has a narrow emotional range, and Sally is a piano with a key board twice as large as a standard piano!

Once Suzie comes up with that list from the four comparisons, Sally can sort through it and say, “These are design statements and these are woundedness and this other set of markers are simply immaturity.”

The second tool I gave her was to have Suzie place Sally and Fred in situations they have never been in and describe how they would respond.

Each is hosting a party at their home.  They get so caught up in talking with one of the guests, that they let the main dish burn until smoke is coming from the kitchen.  What would each of them do in that crisis?

Each one is offered a promotion which means moving out of the country.  How would they process that offer?

Each hears that there is a big move of God in the city one hour away from them, at the church they used to attend.  How would they process the decision of whether to go back or not?

Whether Suzie is right or wrong in her assessment of how Sally would respond to those situations, the discussion is sure to surface some valuable information about how Sally is perceived.  If Suzie is adamant that Sally would do X and Sally is positive she would do Y, this would be a very productive conversation.  What is it in the culture that has caused Sally to act differently from her design, and could Sally give herself permission to act according to her design in the future, if she knows so clearly what it is?

NOW — here is the real point of this blog.

My life is an awesome dance between principle and revelation.

WHILE I was having a hurried chat with Sally on doing her homework better, I got one of those beloved Elbow in the Ribs from the Holy Spirit.  He reminded me that long ago, Sally had engaged with the Giver portion of her spirit and came back with a real blank.  Giver had no clue who she was.

In the context of my using principles to show Sally how to find out about herself, the Holy Spirit gave revelation about Giver, saying that Giver had a passion for architecture.

I immediately floated that to Giver, suggesting that she had strong feelings about when a building was put together badly.  Knowing her religious background, I added a guess.  I suggested that in the past, when Giver had spoken about buildings that were right or wrong, she had been cursed with the label “judgmental.”  This is one of the most universal Christian cuss words used to silence people we don’t agree with.

I legitimized Giver’s design by pointing out that God the Architect was very controlling.  He told both Moses and David that they were not permitted to improve on His architectural design of the buildings they built for Him.  Right now, Jesus is involved in a huge building project getting ready for us.  And one of the few things we know about the eternal state is that we, the Bride, won’t be in heaven.  We will be a meticulously designed city in the “new heaven and new earth.”

This proclaims how important architecture is to God.  We will not be just a Bride, or sheep, or a vineyard but a city with specific characteristics.

Finally I reminded Giver of the deep emotional reaction Sally had to the chapter “Secular and Sacred – Paula” in the book “Blessing your Soul” about the B & B.  I suggested to Giver that in addition to blessing the land, she could design a B & B for the redemptive gifts.  What would happen if people could choose to go to a Teacher B & B or a Mercy B & B?  And when the first seven B & B in her chain are built, she could take it a step up.

What about an architectural design that fits a male Exhorter vs. a female Exhorter?

And then there is the land.  Imagine the chatter on the web when this world famous chain of boutique B & B explores the options for opening the next one.  Giver has in mind a female Ruler B & B for the next one in her chain.  What would it be like if this were in a Mercy city, or a Prophet city, or a Teacher city?  I could see some vibrant discussions around that theme.

So I left Sally with the mandate to clear her schedule for the day and allow Giver to begin to unpack her treasure now that she had language for it.

She still needs to go back to Suzie and do the bigger principle-based assignment, but as so often happens, when we start with principles, we often end up with revelation.

Giver scored today, thanks to an “Elbow.”  BYSo SLG Coaching blog

Copyright February 2016, by Arthur Burk

From the Hub.





  1. Elouise says

    Thank you for the post, Mr Burk.
    I live in South Africa, a Giver nation and I am an architect by training, a prophet by RG. If a Giver is interested in architecture, is it possible that South Africa is to lead in architecture and design? Sir, Friends at SLG, it is evident that I miss pieces of the puzzle (and I don’t even know how many) would you please point me to where I could find some understanding between architecture and giver?
    Ps: When I speak to other people I love, ‘RG’ means ‘retractable gear’. Here it means ‘Redemptive gift”, I think that’s a fun fact!


  2. says

    very much liked the idea of getting feedback from another person about what they would see me doing in a situation……. also liked…. is it design, woundedness or immaturity…. and I applaud the concept that our design coming to fruition is what will bless the body of Christ the most…


  3. Devorah R.G. says

    Awesome story. I enjoyed bouncing off of it. The contrast exercise is a great tool and the dream of such an organized palette of B&B options is a beautiful picture.


  4. maggie says

    Part of me is so used to being conformed to religion , I am just amazed that a leader can be so much aware of these issues at all !Thank you again Arthur, this is incredible. I love the idea of everyone being so utterly unique. I have seen snow fall once only in my country where it happens very rarely; but recently I have seen real snowfalls on US and BBC television dramas . It amazes me that not only is a snowflake unique , it has a unique lightness in falling and can only be seen because there are thousands of others around about falling and floating up and down and swirling around in this unique kind of dance as well – in that very odd way that would totally mesmerise me were I to go somewhere and see it for my self! Wow and amen.